Collaborative Space of Room 13

I recently came across a fascinating article in the magazine Art Education about something called Room 13. The article describes how the author initially discovered Room 13, which is an student run art studio space within a school, while she was investigating collaborative artwork. The article describes the workings of this studio space, which began in one school in Scotland and has now expanded internationally, and calls it an innovative collaborative art studio. By the end of the article, not only was I struck with how interesting and innovative Room 13 was in an art education sense, but also in a collaborative art sense. If anyone is interested, I would definitely recommend reading the article in the September Art Education magazine, but you can also go online to the Rm. 13 website to read more about this concept.

While I think the concept of Room 13 is great, and it seems to be a very collaborative effort in terms of the students organizing and running the space on their own, it is hard to tell exactly how much of the artwork created in the studio is actually collaborative. In the article, the author seems to emphasize collaboration, saying, "Room 13 is an ongoing collaborative work of art. It's about teaching thinking through making art." I would love to be able to observe in an actual Rm. 13 to see what kinds of artistic processes actually happen, and if there is a lot of collaboration between students on artwork. In any case, maybe Room 13 should be a model in terms of how collaboration could be better utilized in the art classroom, both in terms of student organization and control over space and material as well as art-making.

As I begin to think about what types of collaborative works we will make in class this semester, I can't help but bring art education into the equation. I wonder what king of work would be both collaborative and involve art education in some way...

The purpose of the audience

The idea of a viewer and audience pertaining to art is an interesting one. In the last class we discussed the audience and the viewer and Kaprow’s effort to “eliminate” the idea of an audience and merge life and art. I wonder about the value of art if there is no audience. If there is no one to appreciate the art, no one to affect, is it nothing more than personal gratification for the artist; simply done for the joy of the art making process? It is a nice thought that all art is done for this purpose, and I am sure that much of what is done today is.

However, it is human nature to want to interact and build relationships with the outside world. I can't say that it is not art if it does not affect people. But what makes great, famous pieces of art? Would Jackson Pollock still be an ingenious artist if the art world had not told us so? Who decides what will be the next great piece, because I have a feeling it is not the artist telling himself “this is the best piece of art ever made”. But then so often the greatest pieces are not particularly aesthetically pleasing. Is it how effective it is in communicating an idea to the audience, or could it be how different it is from what is currently being done in the art world? A combination of all of these ideas plays into what makes a great work, but I still feel that it is the energy and the emotional reaction that is evoked that makes Jackson Pollock’s work, more than his personal gratification. If not for audience interpretation, would there be any more “great works” of art?


The class discussion provided viewpoints and ideas that I had never thought of. The diverse comments provoked my thinking cap to turn on.

I realized that I could not understand the true purpose of collaborative art-making if in fact I did not know the definition of art. I continuously asked myself, ‘What is art?’. I landed upon a simple and commonly used definition: a form of expression. And then I pondered what might two or more people have in common to collaborate. Are two people still collaborating if a conceptual artist sets a dinner table and a photographer documents the work? What is collaborative art-making?
At that point I thought I was back to square one but then I began to think about content explored in previous art history lessons. The strong workers that built the pyramids in Giza collaborated with each other but were they collaborating with the designer as well. The artist Yves made me ponder the idea of collaborative art-making where there is an instructor or leader and willing or unwilling active participants. After I continued to contemplate this topic everything became a blur. I no longer wanted to know what art-making was in a collaborative sense. Maybe it is something you really can’t ponder for too long. I believe that it is the active participation in collaborative art-making that forms a solid, convincing definition. Once I am emerged in the collaborative art-making process I can form a purpose out of my experiences. As far as the definition of art, I believe it is no deeper than a form of expression.


Art is...

A. any process with the intention of producing "art"
-But isn't this definition inherently flawed? How can one word define itself? That is like saying, "When I build this chair, I want to be be furniture. It must embody these completely abstract qualities of furnitureness. And, why do I want to be considered furniture? Well..."


B. often, though not necessarily, made to communicate, from the artist outward and/or from the piece to the audience
-Does this mean outsider art, notebook doodles, elephant paintings, and hallucinogen-inspired wall drawings may not be "art?" Those "artists" probably were not trying to convey a specific message. But, if even one viewer receives a message from those pieces, they are considered art? How valid is a message unto a viewer when the artist did not intend one? Doesn't that say more about the viewer than the art piece?


C. something designed to be aesthetically, emotionally, and/or intellectually striking
-Again, doesn't this vary by the viewer? Does this mean that whether or not something is art depends on who is looking at it? It's not a universal yes or no? By this clause, couldn't I disagree with the universally accepted definition as Starry Night as being artwork?

FYI Merriam-Webster defines "art" as:

Main Entry:
\ˈärt, ərt\
Middle English, from Old English eart; akin to Old Norse est, ert (thou) art, Old English is is
archaic present 2d singular of be

Main Entry:
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin art-, ars — more at arm
13th century
1: skill acquired by experience, study, or observation art of making friends>2 a: a branch of learning: (1): one of the humanities (2)plural : liberal arts barchaic : learning , scholarship3: an occupation requiring knowledge or skill art of organ building>4 a: the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects ; also : works so produced b (1): fine arts (2): one of the fine arts (3): a graphic art5 aarchaic : a skillful plan b: the quality or state of being artful6: decorative or illustrative elements in printed matter